With the college football and NFL seasons moving right along, on-field performances take center stage. As such, preseason perceptions are confirmed to be accurate or proven to be incorrect. With that comes plenty of NFL draft news and rumors, including NFL team needs coming into focus and prospects moving up and down draft boards.
In this mailbag, we identify the strength of the center class in 2023 and Ohio State C Lyke Wypler’s draft status, whether Tennessee is a contender, and what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should/could do at the quarterback position.
If you have a question that you want to be answered in next week’s NFL Draft News and Rumors Mailbag, be sure to email me here.
Prospect Watch: 2023 NFL Draft Class
Q: Where do you see Boston College WR Zay Flowers going in the draft? I mostly see him as a guy that could get picked in the middle rounds, but where do you think he goes?
Probably the middle of Day 3, depending on how fast he runs before the draft. Flowers is a terrific pass catcher, but he’s not very big (5’9″, under 175 pounds), he’s not super fast (mid-to-high 4.4 range), and I’m told his arms will measure under 30 inches. He has the skills to be a good fifth receiver/return specialist, but there’s not a big market value in the draft for a receiver with those measurables.
Q: Washington State QB Cam Ward — what is your initial read on him more than halfway
through the 2022 season?
Lots of potential but must do a better job protecting the football. Ward has terrific size, athleticism, and a next-level arm. He’s been very productive, but there have been too many forced passes.
Bailey Zappe came out of that same FCS conference and did well after transferring to Western Kentucky. For comparative purposes, Ward is head and shoulders better than Zappe on the physical ability front.
2023 Draft Risers
Q: You mentioned Oregon C Alex Forsyth in your Risers column — is this a deep center class? And are there any other Oregon offensive linemen to know of for the 2023 NFL Draft?
Luke Wypler of Ohio State is the only center with a Day 1/2 grade on my board right now. The sense I’m getting is the redshirt sophomore is likely to enter the draft. I put it at 60/40 right now. There are a lot of centers with Day 3 grades on my board that offer potential to move into Day 2 with a good season in 2022 or even start on Sunday in the right system.
Presently, three Oregon blockers have draftable grades on my board; Steven Jones, who is currently injured, has a sixth-round grade, as does T.J. Bass (who I have on my guard board). Finally, I have a seventh-round grade on tackle Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu.
The grades I have on Jones, Aumavae-Laulu, and even Forsyth are much better compared to what scouts I’ve spoken with have.
Q: Is Tennessee a legitimate contender for the SEC/College Football Playoff? And how high could Hendon Hooker vault his draft stock if they do win the SEC?
Are they contenders? Yes. Do I think they’ll beat Georgia in Athens on November 5? No.
Hooker’s draft stock hinges more on how he plays versus the outcome of the Volunteers’ season, and he’s played well. The biggest mover for Hooker’s draft stock is Senior Bowl or Shrine Bowl practice, assuming he plays in one of those games. That could move him from a late Day 2 pick into the top 45.
2023 NFL Draft Storylines To Follow
Q: Bucs fan here. Is there a mid-round, first-round quarterback to know of to replace Tom Brady, or are the plans for Kyle Trask to get the reps after Brady?
I know they like Trask, and I said it was a great pick for the franchise at the time. I doubt any top-rated quarterback will be available for them in the middle of Round 1. C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Will Levis will all be gone — then it’s a bit of a drop-off to the next tier of signal-callers.
Q: Any draft sleepers that aren’t getting enough national love?
I’ve mentioned a few guys in the past few weeks, including cornerbacks Cam Smith of South Carolina, Deonte Banks of Maryland, and Myles Brooks of Louisiana Tech.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey is getting a lot of love in some areas of the scouting community. He’s short but explosive, and he’s been described to me as a “poor man’s Aaron Donald” who could go in the top 60 if he enters the draft.
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